AUSTIN, TX – Friday, was graduation day for thousands of University of Texas students. Many will go onto successful careers. Those who are in this country illegally, no matter what their GPA, will not be able to work.
While most upcoming grads are resting for their big day, some UT students dressed in their caps and gowns to fight for their uncertain future.
"It's time to be recognized as human beings," said Loren Campos.
The faces in the crowd are in the country illegally. Yet, they overcame all odds and got their degrees.
Edilsa López has three majors and is draped in honors cords. Despite her 3.3 average, she will not be able to get a job.
"There are so many opportunities out there for me right now, but I can't take any of them," López said.
Her parents abandoned her in Guatemala at seven. She was then kidnapped, and spent some of her high school years homeless.
"It's so difficult. Sometimes you need a mom," she said. "I don't have financial resources and food to eat sometimes. So it's difficult, but it hasn't stopped me."
Daniel Candelaria's mom brought him to Austin from Mexico when he was 12.
"I saw the tower when we were driving into Austin," said Candelaria. "She said that's where the best university in Texas is at. I told her one day I'm going to go there."
He wants to teach middle school, but his application for legal status will take 12 more years.
"I'm on the edge of a cliff and I don't know what I'm going to do," he said.
These graduates are counting on the passage of the DREAM Act or development, relief and education for alien minors.
If passed, undocumented youths would get a six year long conditional path to citizenship that requires completion of a college degree or two years of military service.
"We want to feel compassion for that. That's a right. That's the right reaction is to feel for these people," said Tony McDonald.
Young Conservatives of Texas member Tony McDonald will also get his diploma this weekend.
He does not support giving his undocumented classmates temporary citizenship.
"A limited form of amnesty is still an amnesty. It provides an incentive for more people to come here illegally. It lets people get off the hook for their criminal act," said McDonald.
According to the higher education coordinating board, in 2010, there were 16,000 undocumented students enrolled in colleges. Ninety- nine hundred of those students received financial aid totaling $33 million dollars. UT had the highest enrollment out of four year colleges in the state.